As many European countries are either legalizing euthanasia or considering legislation to do so, Pope Francis has spoken out against the devaluing of human life, calling it part of a “throwaway culture.”
Catholic News Service reports that the Pope made his remarks during an interview with Carlos Herrera of COPE, which is the radio network owned by the Spanish bishops’ conference. He dismissed the idea that euthanasia and assisted suicide are acts of compassion, saying that “what the church is asking is to help people to die with dignity. This has always been done.” He continued:
What is (deemed) useless is discarded. Old people are disposable material; they are a nuisance. Not all of them, but of course, in the collective subconscious of the throwaway culture, the old, the terminally ill, and unwanted children, too; they are returned to the sender before they are born.
This throwaway culture has marked us. And it marks the young and the old. It has a strong influence on one of the tragedies of today’s European culture.
It’s no surprise that the Pope expressed dismay at the current trajectory of European nations. Since the Netherlands first legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide nearly 20 years ago, the number of people requesting to die has skyrocketed. In some countries, it is even legal to euthanize children or those suffering from mental illness. Spain made headlines earlier this year as it legalized euthanasia for the first time, while others including Italy, Germany, and Malta are currently considering laws that would legalize the practice.
The failure to value life extends to the preborn, too, as just this year the European Union launched an attack on countries with pro-life laws, calling abortion a “fundamental right.” The Pope commented on abortion during the interview, saying there is no point at which a preborn child is not a human life.
Any embryology manual given to a student in medical school says that by the third week of conception, sometimes before the mother realizes (that she is pregnant), all the organs in the embryo are already outlined, even the DNA. It is a life, a human life.
Some say, ‘It’s not a person.’ It is a human life! So, in front of a human life, I ask myself two questions: Is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem, is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Second question: Is it fair to hire an assassin to solve a problem?”
As the Pope noted, much of Europe is experiencing a “demographic winter” as a result of the diminishing value of life. In a society that routinely kills preborn children in the womb and advocates for the death of the elderly, sick, and suffering, it’s no surprise that the culture is failing to flourish. In order for nations to thrive, life needs to be respected, cared for, and cherished at all ages and stages.
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